What is the West Coast Session? As the event organizer, I had to ask myself this question innumerable times in the months of planning leading up to this year's event. During rough days when the WCS seemed nothing more than a failed dream, crippled by the demands of budget and liability and overshadowed by the glamour of more professional, higher-budget and better-publicized ski events, I was forced to ask, "What's the point of an event without a competition? Without a prize purse? With no commercial incentive? No next-level terrain features? None but the slightest semblance of organization?"
I didn't know the answer until everyone started to arrive. In cars from Colorado and Utah. From Whistler and Tahoe, Quebec and Korea, Idaho, Japan, Spain and New Hampshire. Some came bleary-eyed, ready for a welcome break from a long winter of competitions and shoots around the globe. Others came hungry, ready for a different kind of break: the chance to throw down in front of influential peers. But everybody came to ski, and that's exactly what we did.
What emerged was this article, which is, after all, the real point of the West Coast Session: a ski story created not for any single commerical interest in the business of skiing, but for Newschoolers. What is Newschoolers? It's not just a website or an office- it's YOU.
This was our West Coast Session. Enjoy.
- Ethan Stone
Day 1: Ski Bowl
Eric Norman and the Diggler. photo: Ethan Stone
The Session kicked off under a snowy sky Wednesday, April 23 with an afternoon of riding at Mt. Hood Ski Bowl. Most out-of-town visitors to Mt. Hood drive right by Ski Bowl without even realizing it's there. Little do they know, the Bowl's got some of the best terrain to be found in northwestern Oregon (just look behind Eric), and it's such a well-kept secret that I guarantee I'll be getting some shit from locals for this article.
Ski Bowl pulled out all the stops to accommodate the WCS crew, opening the lifts exclusively for us and building a bigger park than this little resort has ever boasted before. Let me take you on a little tour, starting at the top with this funny rail called the Diggler.
Shinji Osada. photo: Stone
Immediately following the Diggler was the S-box, which proved to be an endless source of entertainment and challenge: 270s on, switch-ups, pretzels, 50-50s, presses... you name it, the S-box was up for it.
Alex Martini. photo: cko
Up next was an interesting conglomeration of boxes that ended up being a "flat down flat gap down"... or, for those who prefer brevity, "that box thing."
Yuke Ikeda layback. photo: cko
Up next was a 25-ft jump, which funneled directly into the "drop gap": a flat pad with a box launching out over a 25-foot gap. While the pad saw some crazy buttered spins and the box some big spins out, nothing was more impressive on day one than Yuke Ikeda's absolutely ridiculous laybacks on the box.
Travis Durtschi 7 tail. photo: Ryan Gertken
Below the drop gap waited the first of our two larger features, this 45-foot stepdown jump. Unfortunately time had been short in building the lip, and it never got quite the attention it needed to reach its full potential. Next year I promise we'll start pushing jumps earlier, as long as it doesn't dump snow for a week straight before the event like it did this year.
After the 45-footer lurked the most high-profile feature at Ski Bowl, a 60-foot step-over right in front of the base area. This jump saw quite a bit of action during our days at Ski Bowl, and you'll see some photos of it further on in this article.
Tom Wallisch rodeo 7 critical. photo: Stone
Since the lip of the stepdown had left much to be desired, Tom Wallisch and Steve Stepp took it upon themselves to shovel out a new inrun up the side of the table for a ghetto hip-style option of the kind that's popular on the sides of shitty jumps worldwide.
"You see this? This is the Tom & Steve Super Sessions jump!" Tom yells, just before pioneering the new feature with a textbook rodeo 7 critical.
"Did you see that grab?" someone mutters. By this time, everyone is used to simply shaking their heads at whatever Tom does. And for the rest of the day, the Tom & Steve Super Sessions jump sees more action than the original lip of the stepdown.
Ski Bowl Night Session
photo: Travis Durtschi
Since Ski Bowl is, after all, "America's largest night ski area," it was only natural that we'd return later in the day for a night session on the same features. I pulled into the parking lot at 6:30pm, ahead of the rest of the crew in order to scout out the conditions, which weren't looking optimal (to say the least).
Around five inches of fresh had already fallen throughout the day, and as afternoon wore into evening the flakes only got bigger and more persistent. A quick check of the Doppler radar offered no hope of a change in conditions, and since the lights were already on and the lift was turning, the call was made:
"Fuck it! Let's ski!"
Josh Bishop. photo: Josh Anderson
A few of the bona fide professionals put away their imaging equipment for the evening, but the obstinate and the creative kept at it despite the conditions. Darren with Voleurz put it best: "It's at night and it's snowing... that's two things that combine for a unique shot." (You can check out the Voleurz WCS edit in the front page media player to see what Darren made of the night.)
He was right, too- the photos that came out of the night sesh, like Josh's above, were some of the most compelling of the whole event. And as for the skiing, it was nothing but good times.
skier unknown. photo: Stone
Someone started boosting off the side of the 25-footer, and in no time at all, a full-blown backflip session was underway.
Witt Foster. photo: Stone
Once our flip desire had been satiated, a wicked session started brewing on the rainbow box. With the challenge of "do a better trick than Tom Wallisch," who was mistying over the box, things immediately started heating up.
Max Peters hand drag. photo: Stone
In less than half an hour, the scope of possibilities for a rainbow box expanded exponentially as all manner of hand drags, presses, taps and flips were explored. By unanimous consent Brady Perron won the challenge with a flawless hand drag cork 3 over the box, and I was ready to call it quits for the night when Brady and Witt talked me into one last lap to jib the roof of the warming hut.
The lift had already stopped running at this point, but Saga's Austin Stevens, a trooper to the last, towed us up on his sled, in his shorts, to bag the shot just minutes before the lights went out.
Witt sends it off the warming hut. photo: Stone
The late shift. photo: James
Day 2: Meadows (+ Saga sled trip)
On Thursday morning, streaks of rain on the windows of the cabin at Windell's Camp and crestfallen faces among the jib goblins both announced the same thing: pow day! Late April has her surprises, and she had prepared quite the package for us this time, with close to a foot of fresh on the mountain.
Instantaneously, all of the fat demo skis vanished from the Amplid office in Welches, and the rest of us were left glancing shifty-eyed with malice in our hearts as Bravoski editor Tatsuya Tayagaki and photog Josh Anderson happily pulled rockered fatties from their cars in the Mt. Hood Meadows parking lot.
Weeks of finagling with marketing guys and mountain managers had given us the unique chance this year to ski not one, not two, but all three of the major resorts on Mt. Hood. Fortunately, Thursday's action was scheduled for Meadows, not just the largest ski area, but also the one with the most options for steep and deep shredding.
Now, if you will, imagine to yourself a narrow track threading through the woods along a ridgeline, leading to one of your favorite pow stashes. You're stopped on the side of the track, waiting for your buddies, when suddenly you see a skier ripping through the trees past you, on a beeline for the goods.
"Wow," you start to think, "that guy's pretty good" - but before you can finish the thought, another great skier comes flying past. Somewhere up the ridgeline you hear an indistinct rumble, sounds like an avalanche - then another comes flashing by - then two more - and suddenly the woods around you are filled with a blur of neon green Scott poles, mirror-lensed goggles and EC Headwear beanies. It's like you're in the middle of a swarm of locusts headed for Egypt, except Egypt is lower Heather Canyon, and the locusts are the WCS shoot crew. Suddenly they're gone- and as you look after them, you realize that the glades below you, which just seconds earlier had beckoned with virgin lines, are now hopelessly littered with tracks.
If you've succeeded in imagining this scene, you're not far from the reality of our chaotic first run with the entire group through Heather Canyon.
a crude photographic approximation of what our first lap looked like.
After the initial swarm, we split up into more manageable groups led by local guides to show the crew around.
Even so, middle-aged ladies were heard to exclaim, "Oh my god, here they come again! Where do they come from?" as cliffs and cornices across the mountain were systematically bombed out. Hollywood cornice was one of the first to go.
A new crowd arrives at Hollywood.
Brian Spere, givin'er. photo: Stone
Hood loc Scott Rowley shows the crew how it's done with a massive 180. photo: Stone
Matt Margetts knows: even if you don't stick the landing, make sure to stomp the rideaway! Huge cork 3 off Hollywood, sequence: cko.
Meadows covers a sprawling area filled with hidden stashes: untracked 60-degree pitches, steep tree lines and mouth-watering cornices and cliff drops await the venturer who knows where to find them. We did our best to show the visitors some of the sweet spots, and even Sammy Carlson pitched in, showing off a few of his favorite niches.
Max Peters finds a nice little nook. photo: Stone
After a few hours of ripping around, we decided to throw together a quick booter above a large wind drift. Under Margetts' expert direction, the jump quickly took shape, and the booter sesh was on after Matt guineaed it with a stomped 180.
Skier unknown, backflip with a through-the-legs pole pass! photo: cko
Max Peters rodeo 7. photo: cko
After a long day of skiing, Max provided the necessary punctuation mark with this huge rodeo, and we headed home satisfied.
Meanwhile, a separate mission was still underway. We'd received permission from Ski Bowl to send up a small group with a sled while the mountain was closed. Austin from Saga rallied a squad of to check out some of the great terrain stashed around the Bowl.
Austin on the trip: "A lucky group of NSers traveled deep into the Ski Bowl backcountry at ludicrous speed via the Saga Outerwear Snowchine. A quick recap of the trip: everyone went huge, Brady Perron never falls, and Ty Barnes and James Snowbarger showed us the backflip will never get old. Brady's efforts earned him the Saga suit giveaway for the West Coast Session."
Brady Perron 180. photo: James Snowbarger
Steve Stepp right 3. photo: Snowbarger
Tyler Barnes backflip. photo: Snowbarger
The Saga squad. photo: Snowbarger
On Thursday evening, Amplid hosted a dinner at the Skyway, followed with a show by Viasoul, a local enlightened hip-hop group with a funky rhythm section featuring the flows of Griffin Cummings on the mic. You might have already heard one of their tracks if you've seen the Nimbus webisodes (and who hasn't?). These guys are are amazing and they're playing shows from Hood to Whistler this summer, so watch out for them!
Viasoul rocks the Skyway. photo: Brandon's iPhone
Day 3: Meadows park (+Steptbi9 Timberline mission/Joystick booter)
Friday. Sun. Finally. Meadows and Timberling. Parks, pipe, BC. Yes. I'll let the photos do the talking.
Guy-in-the-sky grab collage: tweaked toxic - unknown; guitar - Dan Bruton; critical - Max Peters; safety - unknown; no grab - Josh Bishop. photos: Stone
Meadows was the destination for most of the group, where the locals were holding it down all day with laid-back Hood style. photo: Stone
Steve Ekstrom rodeo 5, tired of double backflips. photo: Stone
Meanwhile the Joystick crew had other plans... photo: Felix Rioux
Idaho's Ben Moxham, big sw7 dub japan. photo: Stone
Kiyoshi Terada enjoys the pristine Meadows pipe. photo: Anderson
Ced T-F jibs this snow chuck we found laying in the middle of nowhere. photo: Stone
Mandatory awesome daily Matt Margetts shot. photo: Anderson
the only guy who could pull off a Jack Daniels jacket. photo: Stone
Weeks of bad weather had postponed construction of Meadows' spring park on Cascade, but the jumps and the pipe in the Rose City Park were squeaky clean, big enough for everyone and lots of fun.
If you're wondering where all the Stept/4bi9 riders are, we sent them on a special dispatch to ride Timberline (and forgot to send a photog). But you can check Hennie's dope T-Line edit here.
Blake Nyman. photo: Rioux
Meanwhile Tony's Joystick team was doing their own thing as usual, and doing it bigger than everyone else. You can read a bit more about it on the Joystick blog, and keep your eye out for the Joystick movie. Judging by all of the crazy shit they did in the few days they were at Hood, this movie will be one not to be missed.
Anthony Boronowski on the jump: "We actually got to Windells a couple days before the WCS started in the hopes of hitting a couple backcountry features prior to everyone's arrival. Because nothing ever goes as planned, we built that jump and then it got cloudy for three days. Our chance to hit the jump came on the second to last day of the WCS, and we managed to coerce Felix Rioux into coming and shooting the jump with us. That was a pretty fun day and I'm glad Blake got a great shot off it."
Moxham flat 3 on Meadows stepover. photo: cko
Margetts nose butter. photo: cko
X-Dragon from Korea was busy filming himself! photo: cko
Josh Bishop, circa 1999 japan grab. Josh's quote of the day: "I was so much more stoked to be doing japans with the Japanese guys around!" photo: cko
McRae Williams rodeo 5 nose. photo: Stone
Laid out flips were popular on the Meadows step-up, Tosh Peters demonstrates. photo: Stone
Tyler Spence alley-oop flat 5. photo: Anderson
Needless to say, our first sunny park session had sparked everybody's excitement, and Windell's campus, from all the outdoor skate features to BOB, the indoor skate/tramp/foam pit paradise, was packed from the moment we got back from the hill.
left: Shea Flynn "suckin' on Ds nigga!" right: Okay, who glued the hippie to the ceiling? photos: Durtschi
Matt Walker working on some new spin/grab combos. photo: Rioux
Paco Garcia enjoying Windell's. photo: Rioux
Poker was the entertainment of choice in the Joystick cabin. Word on the street is that Kim Lamarre's got a mean poker face, she cleaned out the boys two nights in a row! photo: Rioux
Day 4: NS member gathering at Ski Bowl
Group kang attack. photo: Stone
Time flies when you're having fun, and all of a sudden it was Saturday and time for the Newschoolers West Coast member gathering at Ski Bowl. A large crowd of Newschoolers turned out to ride a great park with some of their heroes, and a historic and fun-filled session ensued.
skier unknown. photo: GertkenTATSUYA!!!
The step-over jump at the base was by far the most popular feature of the day despite a drastically variable speed on the inrun. With a fairly short sweet spot on the landing, the story of the day was "either too big or too small" and quite a few gnarly diggers were seen both on the knuckle and the bottom of the tranny. Nevertheless, for those who had the speed dialed or just didn't care, the jump was money.
The trick of the day was undoubtedly the rodeo. Rodeo #1: McRae Williams. photo: Brian Sites
Rodeo #2: Richie Paradise. photo: Gertken
Rodeo #3: Wallisch. photo Gertken
Rodeo #4: Josh Malczyk. photo Stone
All day long, from the top of the park to the bottom, every feature was under seige and everyone was stoked, including the badass Ski Bowl lifties, who never hesitated to comment on all the action going down:
"That twister was bad as a bug!"
Wallisch on the S-box. photo: Gertken
Wallisch one-footer on the Diggler. photo: Durtschi
One of the more entertaining moments was the kang competition on the step-over...
Nick Martini, screaming kang! photo: Sites
Matt Walker kangs. photo: Sites
Tim Durtschi came back from Alaska just in time to drop this massive kang. photo: Sites
All day long the session raged, and a few diehards were still onslope for the last lap under the lights.Sometime during the three shoot days, Tyler Barnes' credit card had gone missing, and as you all know, when something gets lost skiing it's almost always gone for good. On Saturday, Tim Durtschi took a nice spill on the step-over, digging up a chunk of the landing and in the process unearthing the lost plastic, which had been buried and groomed over days before. Flashing the buried treasure: "Hey Barnes, drinks are on me tonight!"
Richie Paradise. photo: Gertken
The Hathaway dislocated shoulder rehab program: stretch it out with a Sammy grab. photo: Gertken
Once again, the West Coast Session proved that you don't need a huge budget, an overdose of advertising or even a really big jump to put together an amazing event. All that's needed is a crew of talented and motivated skiers, a media platform like Newschoolers and a whole lot of elbow grease. That's all for this year, folks.
West Coast Session Honor Roll
These four skiers were on point every day during the Session and deserve a shoutout. Ask for their autograph, sponsor them, or just pat them on the back the next time you bump into them, 'cause these guys know how to throw down.
Max Peters and McRae Williams, along with little bro Tosh, absolutely destroyed each and every feature we hit every day, without giving a fuck whether any cameras were pointed in their direction.
Matt Margetts gave'er like only a Canuck could, offering everyone a lesson in sending it huge on our pow days.
Brady Perron is leading the way in jib innovation; every time I turned around he was doing something ridiculous that no one else would have come up with. Watch out for this kid.
A huge thanks goes out to the hosts, partners and sponsors of the West Coast Session:Brandon Pastucka and Brian Sites Troy Fischer, Jesse, Karen Norton and the whole park crew Austin Stevens, Tim Windell Dave Tragethon Randy Torcom Austin Stevens Logan Stewart Brandon's buddy
Additional thanks: Abe Kislevitz (abekislevitz.com) for all the event artwork; Hennie VJ (4bi9), Cameron Fair (DOS Media) and Darren Rayner (Voleurz) for all of the great edits; Kelly Kuykendall for the screen printing; Brian Spere for the park-building help; Skyway Bar & Grill; Griffin Cummings and Viasoul; Pabst Blue Ribbon, Jack Daniel's and Mendocino County, California; and everyone who came out to make the Session what it was! Anna Borgman, John Kutcher, Brady Perron, Witt Foster, Tyler Barnes, Kim Lamarre, Anthony Boronowski, Blake Nyman, Jordan Seldin, Paco Garcia, Tom Wallisch, Cam Riley, Steve Stepp, Eric Norman, Cedric Tremblay-Fournier, Travis Durtschi, Dan Bruton, Tatsuya Tayagaki, Shinji Osada, XDragon, Kiyoshi Terada, Jackie, Yuta Ueno, Kendaru Tuda, Yuke Ikeda, Matt Walker, Andrew Hathaway, Nick Martini, Alex Martini, Tosh Peters, Max Peters, McRae Williams, Matt Margetts, Tyler Spence, Richie Paradise, Shea Flynn, Josh Bishop, Jeff Schmuck, Chris K. O'Connell, Felix Rioux, Josh Anderson and anyone who I may have forgotten:
Thanks for the good times and see you next year!DOS Media's final edit
4bi9's final edit